|Imsai Arasan 23am Pulikesi|
|Vadivelu, Nassar, Nagesh, Monica, Tejasri|
Simbudevan the cartoonist turned writer-director has made a scathing attack on how life has not changed much for common man since time immemorial as they are always exploited by rulers (today’s politicians) of the day. You will either love this eccentric film or just hate it! But one thing is sure- You are sure to love Vadivelu.
Shankar the producer and Simbudevan deserves a pat on their back to cast Vadivelu the most solid comedian of Tamil cinema in the main lead of this mad laugh riot. He is no Nagesh (in his prime) but Vadivelu does manage to make you laugh as Pulikesi, the dimwit king. And as his twin brother, he is a revelation as you get to see the other side of this talented actor as a serious, head strong, intelligent man.
The story is a spoof on many films that we have seen in the past. In a faraway kingdom the ruler (Nagesh) and queen (Manorama) are craving for a child as all their 22 kids die at birth. Little do they know that the queen’s brother Rajguru (Nassar) is behind the death of their children as he wants to be the next ruler! But when the palace astrologer predicts that the 23rd child will be a dimwit, Rajguru is happy. But the queen gives birth to twins and among them the smarter one (according to the astrologer) is ordered to be killed while the dimwit survives.
The child is named 23 am Pulikesi (Vadivelu) and he grows up to be the new king after the Kings death. Pulikesi is an idiot, womanizer, coward, illiterate and puppet in the hands of Rajguru who is hand-in-glove with the British to loot the state. Meanwhile the other child is adopted by a childless couple and he grows up to be Ugraputran (Vadivelu) an educated young man and a patriot with lot of vision for his country. Soon Ugraputran comes to know about his past and to save the land from Rajguru and British; he replaces Pulikesi as the king. He joins hands with Dalapathi (Sreeman), brings new reforms, exposes Rajguru and saves the land from the British.
Simbudevan has succeeded to a very large extent in making the audience laugh with dialogue oriented comedy and not falling back on slapstick variety. He throws all rules of the book out of the window by his unconventional storyline and presentation. A dumb Pulikesi makes a huge stadium for the public to conduct caste wars between two groups and the man who killed more number of people is awarded something similar to the ‘man of the match’ in one-day cricket matches! In another instance, Pulikesi parcels off a particular area to a bandit to loot the common man, similar to present day politicians giving each dada an area to operate and allowing an aerated drink made out of earthworms (sheer coincidence to pesticides in Cola)to be popularized in the state. All this brings the house down.
On the downside the dialogues are in chaste Tamil and too many songs mar the tempo especially post interval. The songs by Sabesh Murali and their picturisation are a take off on old Tamil songs and the Ugraputran character is modeled on MGR in his early swashbuckling days. The sets of Krishnamoorthy are tacky as they tend to blow in the wind!
Vadivelu takes the cake and the bakery, as he is there in every scene and he makes you laugh as Pulikesi with his fumbling bumbling act and has given his career best performance. Nassar is convincing as the greedy, evil Rajguru, Ilangovan as Pulikesi’s stupid minister is good. The girls Tejasri and Monica have nothing much to do and are there for songs. Like Mel Brook’s History of the World-Part One Simbudevan too takes a satirical look at events which is entertaining but could have been trimmed a little bit.
The bottom line is that Imsai… definitely departs from the norms but at the same time is funny and full paisa vasool. Go and laugh your weekend away.
Verdict: Laugh riot.